Massachusetts recently implemented a change to the Massachusetts Maternity Leave Act (MLA) which presently provides eight (8) weeks leave to female employees for the birth or adoption of a child.
Effective April 7, 2015 the MLA has expanded the law to include male employees.
This is a major change for Massachusetts employers with 6 or more employees. The new law states that any Massachusetts employee that meets the eligibility requirements of the MLA is entitled to up to 8 weeks parental leave and must be reinstated to the same or similar position held prior to the leave. An employee must be full-time and employed for at least three (3) months. The decision to provide paid or unpaid leave is a the discretion of the employer. This change removes the possible sex discrimination claim of male employees being treated differently than female employees.
An employer reserves the right to allow an employee (male or female) take more than 8 weeks of leave however, doing so will require the employer to reinstate the employee to the same or equivalent position at the end of the leave unless the employer notifies the employee in writing, before the start of the leave that taking more than 8 weeks may or will result in denial of reinstatement as well as loss of their rights or other benefits.
Employee handbooks and policies should be updated to include these modifications to the Massachusetts MLA.